Geriatric Counseling Career
What Is Geriatric Counseling?
The physical and cognitive limitations related to the process of aging can make daily life challenging for many seniors as they get older. This is especially true for individuals who are accustomed to caring for themselves, and maintaining their their own independence.
Geriatric Counselors provide physical and psychological assessment services for older adults, along with counseling, direct care, treatment for mental health issues, and assistance with problems interfering with a senior's quality of life. They often specialize in the identification and resolution of issues common to seniors residing in long term care and assisted living facilities, and work closely with staff responsible for providing skilled nursing care.
How Do I Become a Geriatric Counselor?
Most individuals who pursue a career in Geriatric Counseling start by obtaining a bachelor's degree in either Psychology (B.S.) or Social Work (BSW), but ideally work towards building skills in both areas. To be successful, a Geriatric Counselor must have a background in mental health and counseling, including knowledge in the areas of mental and emotional disorders, counseling strategies, and other therapeutic interventions. They must also understand how to help clients adjust to changes and challenges in their lives, and evaluate services that are being provided to ensure that the desired outcome is met.
Upon completion of a bachelor's degree, candidates seeking employment as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) must earn a Master's degree and complete two years (2,000-4,000 hours) of supervised clinical work, which are pre-requisites for licensure in virtually every state. Candidates hoping to work in clinical, counseling, or research settings using the title of "psychologist", must earn a Doctoral degree in Psychology (or closely related area of specialization) and complete one to two years of supervised professional experience. Candidates who pursue either path- that of a licensed Psychologist, or LCSW, will have met the education and experience requirements needed to be employable as a Geriatric Counselor.
Why Do We Need Geriatric Counselors?
It’s no secret that many older adults need help with their day to day activities. However, it can be very difficult for family members to be there whenever their loved ones need them, no matter how much they wish they could be.
Geriatric counselors, on the other hand, can provide the assistance that older adults need. The help that these professionals provide often makes the lives of older adults and their families much easier, convenient, and more comfortable. In short, these counselors help provide a better quality of life for those in their “golden years”.
What Does a Geriatric Counselor Do?
Geriatric counselors will often work closely with all types of people, including older adults as well as their family members and health care providers. These professionals typically have a number of different responsibilities, depending on their situations.
Before a geriatric counselor starts working with a new client, he will usually attempt to understand the needs of the client. This often involves reviewing a client’s medical history to become aware of their past and current medical problems, along with any medications the client might be taking. A geriatric counselor will also need to be aware of any limitations of their client. In some cases, a geriatric counselor will also be made aware of a client’s financial situation and family status. All of this information can be used to better serve the needs of the client.
After obtaining this information, a geriatric counselor will then attempt to put together a plan to help make their client’s life easier. This may involve performing daily tasks such as managing the client’s money, shopping for groceries, or arranging for transportation. A geriatric counselor will also usually help set older adults up with social service and assistance programs as well.
A geriatric counselor may also act as a liaison between an older adult and the people around him. For instance, the counselor might help set up doctor’s appointments and fill out any necessary paperwork.
It is also often the responsibility of a geriatric counselor to keep abreast of his clients’ current situations. For instance, a client’s needs may change in the event of a serious illness or accident.
Geriatric counselors will also usually keep a close eye on the mental and emotional state of their elderly patients as well. During this time in a person’s life, dealing with psychological problems in not all that uncommon. For example, an elderly individual may suffer from depression or a similar problem. A geriatric counselor can often help his clients cope with these types of disorders and offer guidance on how to deal with life’s challenges.
Where Do Geriatric Counselors Work?
geriatric counselors can often be found in a variety of facilities and organizations that cater to the needs of elderly individuals. They might work in hospitals, long and short term care facilities, retirement homes, and community senior centers, for instance.
Geriatric counselors can also usually be found working in government and private social service offices.
What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Geriatric Counselor?
|Education Requirements||Education Length||Available Programs|
|Undergraduate Work||Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Counseling||4 Years||Online or Campus|
|Graduate Work||Earn a Master's Degree in Counseling||5-6 Years||Online or Campus|
|PHD or Doctoral Work||Earn a Doctorate in Counseling||7-8 Years||Online or Campus|
The requirements for starting a geriatric counseling career typically vary slightly, depending on your state. Earning a bachelor’s degree in counseling, social work, human services, geriatrics, or psychology, though, is usually a good start to a geriatric counseling career. Many aspiring geriatric counselors also choose to earn graduate degrees as well.
Most states also require future geriatric counselors to have about 3,000 hours of experience working with elderly individuals as well before they become licensed. This requirement is usually fulfilled by completing an internship, volunteering, or working in a facility that caters to elderly individuals.
What Is the Annual Average Salary for a Geriatric Counselor?
The annual average salary of a geriatric counselor can be hard to determine, but it is often similar to other related professions within the counseling field. For instance, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that counselors outside of mental health, substance abuse, and school specialties earn a median salary of $43,390 as of May 2022. However, professionals in the social work sector make a median wage of $61,420 while their psychologist colleagues have a median salary of $106,420.
In the elderly and persons with disabilities sector, the BLS reports that counselors of all types have a mean annual wage of $45,920.
2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics job market trends and salary figures for counselors (all other), social workers (all other), psychologists (all other), and the services for the elderly and persons with disabilities are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed June 2023.